In flipping through my photos of the trip, trying to find a suitable topic, I found this picture (in much the same way we found the subject of the picture in real life) and was immediately captured by the symbolism of the mother leading the children. This picture truly encapsulates my trip. In Commerce Court stand these elephants, a mother leading her babies. My friends and I stumbled upon this adorable piece of art on our convoluted way back to the hostel from Eaton Centre. We were a little lost. Usually, when I’m lost, I have a panic attack. That’s just how the anxiety works. But there was something calm and familiar about those elephants that kept the anxiety at bay, just long enough for Alice to shout, “Here’s King Street!” And I knew I’d be just fine. As we walked away, I turned back to the statues for a moment, wondering whether they were built to scale. I thought to myself, who knew something as large as the mother elephant could take care of something as small and fragile as the baby?
But what do the elephants mean? The elephant is considered a symbol of wisdom and eternity in a lot of cultures. The elders at Momiji seemed to me to be reservoirs of wisdom and were all too happy to share it with me. Not to sound too pretentious, but the elders at Momiji led me to a higher understanding of being. Every conversation I overheard or had with a senior seemed to be about the goodness of life and of people, the love that binds us all together, the resiliency of the human spirit. They talked to me honestly and blatantly about all the things I feared: death, failure, loss, doubt. They explained their ways of coping, gave me advice on how to move forward, and gave me permission to forgive myself for the wrong turns I’d taken in my journey to the present.
Before Momiji, I was lost. Even more lost than I was in Commerce Court. The seniors, each in their own way–but especially my partner, Mitsue– showed me how to find my way, revealed to me their footprints from decades ago. How to navigate my way through life, how to keep calm and stay positive, how to love and continue to see good even when it’s hard— all of these things led me to my better self if that makes sense. The seniors lead me to a better path, just like that mother elephant leads her young.